Kewite-mail, December 2016


Dear Kewites and friends,

It amazes me that we are fast approaching twelve months since our immediate past President Tony Overland was sending out the last Christmas Kewite-mail. Now, after what seems a very speedy year, it is my turn to wish everyone with an interest in the vital work of Kew Gardens, all the very best for Christmas and the Festive Season. I am sure that for many it has been a tiring year and it will be a joy to spend some time with our families, friends and loved ones recuperating over the Christmas break in readiness for the New Year. As ever, the New Year will bring us challenges and opportunities and I therefore send everyone my best wishes for the coming year.

By the time you receive this newsletter, the Guild Trustees will have met on two occasions and we have a full agenda to tackle over the coming months. We have welcomed new committee members in Ian Lamont Smith (oversees representative from Canada) and Leo Pemberton, as well as old stalwarts of the Kew Guild in Graham Burgess, David Hardman and Stewart Henchie. This mix of experience and new skills will be fully utilised by the committee over the coming months.


Alan Stuttard (left) taking over the reign of President from Tony Overland, September 2016

At present, there are a number of significant pieces of work being undertaken by the Guild Committee:

  • The documentation for the planned submission to the Charity Commission for the Guild to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) has now been placed with them after what has been a long piece of work lead by Bob Ivison to address all their questions. The agreement to go forward on this issue was made at the AGM in 2015 which gives some idea of the size of the task. I am also sure that there will be further work and issues for us to deal with in the New Year.
  • You may well have noticed that we have a new website which has just been set up and in its early stage of development. Again, a lot of work has gone on in the background by Jonathan Rickards and the new arrangements should see the Guild make a saving of nearly 90% on the costs that the previous host was charging. Most of the saving has been created because we now have the ability to place articles on the website directly without going through the original company and being charged for every change. This however, will mean that the Committee will have to learn new IT skills and for some of us this is a tall order!
  • The Kew Guild Journal has always been a very popular benefit of membership of the Guild and our Editor Sparkle Ward has excelled herself this year. Many members have commented on the quality of this year’s important annual document that connects all of Kew’s “family” across the world. Work has already started on next year’s Journal and the deadline for articles and photographs is 31st January 2017 and anything that you wish to submit should be sent to Sparkle at
  • Earlier in the year an invitation was received from Her Majesty the Queen for three representatives of the Kew Guild to attend a reception given at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Patronages and Affiliations of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy. Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra is the Patron of the Kew Guild and therefore on the 29th November your President, immediate Past President and Sylvia Phillips attended the reception at Buckingham Palace. We were extremely lucky to have had quite a long conversation with Her Majesty the Queen regarding the work of the Guild, in which she showed much interest. As you can imagine we had a very special evening.
  • Allan Hart has undertaken considerable work on creating the new “Honours Boards” in the Kew Guild Room of the Herbarium and the room is now set to receive a refurbishment and upgrade by Kew. We are therefore looking forward to the work being completed next year and the committee then being able to meet in these new “plush” surroundings. Further updates will be given when the completion date is known.

You can see from the reported activities above that your committee works extremely hard and puts in many hours of work on continuing to provide the Kew Guild services that we have all become used to. I am sure you will agree with me when I thank them all for this work and hope that you will be able to support and enjoy the unique benefits that the Kew Guild provides during the coming year.

Finally, you will all recall the debates that we had when the Guild needed to take the difficult decision to increase membership fees for the first time in many years. I am pleased to report that most of our members have now updated their standing orders to the new fee of £27 and our income has increased significantly to help meet the Guild’s increasing costs. There are, however, still a few members who have yet to change their standing orders and I am sure that this is just down to us all having too much to do in our busy lives. I urge you to please check that the changes have been made as those that do not pay full subscription will no longer receive Guild communications, including the journal. So please don’t let this breakdown continue as I wish you all to remain fully involved in this great “Family of Kew”.

With the kindest regards, Alan Stuttard, President, Kew Guild

Attached: The minutes of the AGM of the Kew Guild held at Jodrell Lecture Theatre, September 2016.

Visits, tours and dates for your diary

On the 22nd October, we had our first visit of the new season, with an extremely interesting trip up north to Thorp Perrow Arboretum, near Bedale in North Yorkshire. The weather was superb, with pleasant autumn temperatures. We had an enthusiastic introduction to the background of the Arboretum followed by a lively tour of the site by Faith Douglas, the Curator. The autumn colours were fantastic and we viewed many surprising uses of coloured plants that normally wouldn’t be expected. A really superb visit.

An exciting programme of events is being developed for 2017 by Committee members and coordinated by our Events Officer Pamela Holt.

18th February: Snowdrops at Bennington Lordship Gardens. The first visit of 2017 is our annual snowdrop garden and this year we are going to Benington Lordship Gardens near Stevenage in Hertfordshire. We are already accepting applications to join us on what is hoped to be as successful as 2016.

6 – 8th April: The Guild’s signature trip is April’s three-day visit to Guernsey to include Raymond Evison’s Clematis nursery, Saumarez Park and a collection of smaller private gardens. The flyer for this event was released earlier this month and applications flooded in and the list of attendees had to be closed 24 hours later. This must be some sort of record. THIS TRIP IS NOW FULLY BOOKED.

12 – 13th May: A trip to Compton Acres and Exbury Gardens. A wonderful weekend exploring two of Hampshire and Dorset’s best known gardens. A day will be spent at Compton Acres, with its water features and various intimate gardens which have been the subject of considerable refurbishment over recent years. The next day sees us at Exbury Gardens with the rare opportunity to be shown around this estate, noted for Rhododendrons and Azaleas, by the owner. A rare opportunity indeed!

25th May: Kew Guild Dinner 2017 at Cambridge Cottage, Kew Green. The plans for the Kew Guild Dinner are proceeding well and we are looking forward to another enjoyable annual event using the very successful format of the last couple of years. I look forward to welcoming you to this great event held in Chelsea Week.

24 – 25th June: A weekend of horticultural and interesting sites in Devon with visits being planned to include Dartmoor and a number of National Trust and private gardens in the Torbay area.

12 – 13th August: Our final visit of the year takes us to Derbyshire with a visit to Chatsworth and a number of gardens and attractions around the Matlock area.

Whilst it is still early days in the planning of some of these visits it is worth noting the dates in your diaries so as not to miss the chance to enjoy these great visits in convivial company. If you haven’t been to one of the visits before, or it’s been a long time since you have joined us, make 2017 the year that you rectify this. Further details will be sent to members and updates placed on the Guild’s website, so keep an eye open for the developing information. You won’t be sorry!

I wish to pass on my thanks to committee members and friends for creating such an exciting programme of events. I urge you to keep watching the website to see which of them whets your appetite and get your application in as soon as possible. Our Events Officer Pamela Holt will be waiting! If you haven’t joined us before on a visit, make this your New Year’s Resolution – you won’t be sorry. I really look forward to meeting new and regular tour members during the coming year on what are always relaxed visits, enjoyed with kindred spirits, who have a love of all things related to Gardens.

So, thank you for reading this update on the work of the Kew Guild and this just leaves me to again wish you all a very peaceful and Happy Christmas and hope that 2017 brings you everything that you desire.

AGM Broadwalk Tour.jpg

Kew Guild Members being given a tour and talk of the Kew Gardens Broardwalk during the AGM day, 2016. Our thanks go to Richard Barley for giving us lots of very interesting information and history.

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